LIBERTY OR DEATH
American Accolades – semi-finalist
Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum – semi-finalist
Red Inkworks – second place
Nicholl Fellowships – top 15%
Chicago Screenwriters Contest – semi-finalist, one of the top four dramas
LOGLINE: In the year 2065, the Bill of Rights has been suspended to facilitate the capture of terrorists and the securing of Mideastern oil. A disillusioned store manager becomes an unlikely revolutionary after the tragic death of his slave.
By the year 2065, the War on Terrorism has taken a toll on America. The Bill of Rights has been suspended to facilitate the capture of terrorists. Prisons overflow with Americans convicted of treason. None of this matters to Jackson Cade, 37. He’s desperate only to escape his bleak life, to end the hopelessness of dealing with his controlling boss and manipulative girlfriend, Mariah Graham. He’s seldom able to sleep through the night.
Congress passes the Traitors Rehabilitated to Assist Democracy (TRAD) Act. To ease the burden on the prison system, upstanding citizens will be given custody of a TRAD. In effect, the TRADs are slaves. Owning a slave he could control seems to be Jackson’s wish come true. He applies for ownership of a TRAD.
Idealistic college students Adrian Kamensky, 19, and Daniel Bright, 21, belong to the underground organization, Liberty or Death, which is dedicated to restoring freedom. When Adrian is convicted of treason and given to Jackson, Jackson’s life unravels. At times, he empathizes with Adrian, but his feelings are conflicted, and he is capable of cruelty as well. Mariah deceives Jackson into believing Adrian has made advances toward her, and Jackson gives his slave a brutal beating. But he learns the truth, and filled with remorse, he realizes he believes the TRAD Act is wrong. Adrian discovers that Jackson has a couple of treasonous secrets of his own.
Daniel plots a bold escape for Adrian. In the middle of the night, he acts. Jackson, awake as usual, hears them and pursues the runaways. He foils the escape attempt, but finds he can’t bring himself to turn in the two fugitives to the Security Department as the law requires.
Adrian despairs. While Jackson works, Adrian uses Jackson’s illegal handgun to kill himself. In his suicide note, Adrian makes requests of Jackson and Daniel. Jackson must make some tough decisions. If he gives Adrian’s body to the Security Department, they’ll know about the gun. Should he flee to Chicago to hide among the hordes of homeless people living there? Or should he for once follow his conscience and act with courage?
When Jackson sees a slave being abused, he knows what he has to do. He steals the slave and joins Daniel in a journey to the wilderness of Idaho where the Second American Revolution brews.